Friday, October 28, 2011

Applying pressure

Andrew Bolt’s blog, which had this quotefrom Jane Albrechtson:
Showing their illiberal tendencies, many on the Left view their ideological opponents in different terms. Opponents are not just wrong but evil. And evil views have no place in a civil society. Seeing conspiracies around every corner, they prefer silencing dissent to answering it. Whether it’s about supporting strong borders or challenging the victimhood focus of indigenous policies, opponents are assumed to have bad motives: read racism and xenophobia. And those with bad motives don’t deserve an airing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taxes and Drinking, Who pays??

Every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
They decided to pay the bill by apportioning the total cost of all the drinks in the same way that we, in ---, pay our taxes.
This meant that:
the first four men (the ‘poorest’) would pay nothing.
the fifth man would pay $1.
the sixth man would pay $3.
the seventh man would pay $7.
the eighth man would pay $12.
the ninth man would pay $18.
the tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with this arrangement – until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. “Drinks for the ten of you will now cost just $80″.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes – so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?’
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested a graduated price reduction based on what each man was currently paying, so that everyone would benefit. They all agreed that this was a good idea so he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay:
the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)..
the sixth man now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
the seventh man now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
the eighth man now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
the ninth man now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
the tenth man now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once they got outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.”I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a Dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I did!” “That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Effects of Cheap Interest

The Paradox of the Outraged

Mises Daily: Monday, October 17, 2011 by 

Time for Outrage!
A wave of social upheaval is shaking the world. In the West, the press has called the protesters "the outraged." The name is taken from the pamphlet Time for Outrage! (Indignez-vous!) by French intellectual Stéphane Hessel. The outrage by the political and economic situation in the Western world is justified. In Europe and the United States, the gap between financial elites and the rest has widened, while politicians have become a sort of modern nobility completely detached from the realities of the ordinary man. Democracies have failed to guarantee fair play among the different social actors, thus endangering their own existence.
The perception that something is fundamentally wrong in Western societies explains why Hessel has sold millions of copies of his brief and provocative pamphlet, triggering social movements in France and Spain. It also explains the emergence of Occupy Wall Street in the United States, a movement that officially declares itself to be inspired by the Spanish acampadas ("camper-protestors"). The galvanization effect of Hessel's pamphlet has reminded us that intellectuals and opinion leaders, as Karl Popper insisted, have to be particularly careful and responsible with the ideas they proliferate. One should never forget Isaiah Berlin's warning that "when ideas are neglected by those who ought to attend to them — that is to say, those who have been trained to think critically about ideas — they sometimes acquire an unchecked momentum and an irresistible power over multitudes of men that may grow too violent to be affected by rational criticism."[1]This is a lesson of the history of Marxism and National Socialism that we cannot forget.
Dangerously, Hessel has failed to recognize that he is endorsing the same attitude that ended up in Nazism and Communism: collectivism. Indeed, both National Socialism and socialism were derived from a rejection of the individualistic philosophy that laid the foundations of Western civilization.
Individualism means, in this context, that each person is considered unique, an end in himself as Kant would say, and must therefore be free to pursue his own goals. Accordingly, he is free insofar as he is not coerced by others to pursue alien ends. Liberty is thus, as John Locke famously put it, "to be free from restraint and violence from others."[2] This idea of freedom as the absence of coercion is the cornerstone of any prosperous and open society. Only where individuals are free to pursue their own ends by making the best possible use of the knowledge they possess can a civilized order of voluntary and peaceful cooperation exist. And only where coercion has been replaced by the voluntary arrangements of individuals can progress flourish. It is not an accident that the greatest achievements in history have been the product of freedom to pursue individual ends: no opera or major technological invention has ever been created under coercion.
The idea that men have to enjoy the freedom necessary to pursue their own ends is exactly what collectivism rejects. For the collectivist mind, individual interest has to be subordinated to the abstraction of the common good. Hessel's call for "a rational economic order in which the individual interest is subordinated to the general interest" perfectly summarizes the collectivist attitude. Once this idea is accepted there is no limit to government intervention. From then on, government can force individuals to follow predetermined courses of action, which are not their own, under the pretext of serving the common good, thereby undermining freedom and progress.

The Fiction of Government

The tragedy of honest left-wing intellectuals who encourage movements such as Occupy Wall Street is that, without realizing it, they are outraged by what is to a large extent the creature of their own thinking. The best example is Hessel himself. He argues that fundamental principles of a free, humanitarian, and democratic society have been replaced by a system in which maximization and uncontrolled financial capitalism prevail. A much better world, he insists, would be one in which individual interest is subordinated to the general interest. This can be best achieved if government plays a larger role in the economy.
One should first ask if there is any reason to believe that government really cares about the common good. Are bureaucrats and politicians not people like everyone else? Was Lord Acton wrong when he said that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely"? And if he was right, is it reasonable to think that those who are in power — and therefore already corrupted — would put their own interest aside in order to serve an abstract ideal called the "common good"?

Hayek versus Keynesian

Warren Harding and the Forgotten Depression of 1920

by Thomas E. Woods, Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Recently by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: The Federal Reserve's Death Rattle?
It is a cliché that if we do not study the past we are condemned to repeat it. Almost equally certain, however, is that if there are lessons to be learned from an historical episode, the political class will draw all the wrong ones — and often deliberately so. Far from viewing the past as a potential source of wisdom and insight, political regimes have a habit of employing history as an ideological weapon, to be distorted and manipulated in the service of present-day ambitions. That's what Winston Churchill meant when he described the history of the Soviet Union as “unpredictable.”
For this reason, we should not be surprised that our political leaders have made such transparently ideological use of the past in the wake of the financial crisis that hit the United States in late 2007. According to the endlessly repeated conventional wisdom, the Great Depression of the 1930s was the result of capitalism run riot, and only the wise interventions of progressive politicians restored prosperity. Many of those who concede that the New Deal programs alone did not succeed in lifting the country out of depression nevertheless go on to suggest that the massive government spending during World War II is what did it.1 (Even some nominal free-marketeers make the latter claim, which hands the entire theoretical argument to supporters of fiscal stimulus.)
The connection between this version of history and the events of today is obvious enough: once again, it is claimed, wildcat capitalism has created a terrific mess, and once again, only a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus can save us.
In order to make sure that this version of events sticks, little, if any, public mention is ever made of the depression of 1920—21. And no wonder: that historical experience deflates the ambitions of those who promise us political solutions to the real imbalances at the heart of economic busts. The conventional wisdom holds that in the absence of government countercyclical policy, whether fiscal or monetary (or both), we cannot expect economic recovery — at least, not without an intolerably long delay. Yet the very opposite policies were followed during the depression of 1920—21, and recovery was in fact not long in coming.
The economic situation in 1920 was grim. By that year unemployment had jumped from 4 percent to nearly 12 percent, and GNP declined 17 percent. No wonder, then, that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover — falsely characterized as a supporter of laissez-faire economics — urged President Harding to consider an array of interventions to turn the economy around. Hoover was ignored.
Instead of “fiscal stimulus,” Harding cut the government's budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding's approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third. The Federal Reserve's activity, moreover, was hardly noticeable. As one economic historian puts it, “Despite the severity of the contraction, the Fed did not move to use its powers to turn the money supply around and fight the contraction.”2 By the late summer of 1921, signs of recovery were already visible. The following year, unemployment was back down to 6.7 percent and was only 2.4 percent by 1923.
It is instructive to compare the American response in this period to that of Japan. In 1920, the Japanese government introduced the fundamentals of a planned economy, with the aim of keeping prices artificially high. According to economist Benjamin Anderson, “The great banks, the concentrated industries, and the government got together, destroyed the freedom of the markets, arrested the decline in commodity prices, and held the Japanese price level high above the receding world level for seven years. During these years Japan endured chronic industrial stagnation and at the end, in 1927, she had a banking crisis of such severity that many great branch bank systems went down, as well as many industries. It was a stupid policy. In the effort to avert losses on inventory representing one year's production, Japan lost seven years.”3
The U.S., by contrast, allowed its economy to readjust. “In 1920—21,” writes Anderson, “we took our losses, we readjusted our financial structure, we endured our depression, and in August 1921 we started up again. . . . The rally in business production and employment that started in August 1921 was soundly based on a drastic cleaning up of credit weakness, a drastic reduction in the costs of production, and on the free play of private enterprise. It was not based on governmental policy designed to make business good.” The federal government did not do what Keynesian economists ever since have urged it to do: run unbalanced budgets and prime the pump through increased expenditures. Rather, there prevailed the old-fashioned view that government should keep spending and taxation low and reduce the public debt.4
Those were the economic themes of Warren Harding's presidency. Few presidents have been subjected to the degree of outright ridicule that Warren Harding endured during his lifetime and continues to receive long after his death. But the conventional wisdom about Harding is wrong to the point of absurdity: even the alleged “corruption” of his administration was laughably minor compared to the presidential transgressions we have since come to take for granted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Understanding Islam

How does Islam Work
Manfred Kleine-Hartlage is a German blogger who posts at Korrektheiten andGerman Views. He is also the author of Das Dschihadsystem: Wie der Islam funktioniert (“The Jihad System: How Islam Works”), and co-editor of Fjordman’sEuropa verteidigen (“Defending Europe”), which will be issued in German on October 30, 2011. He has appeared previously at Gates of Vienna.

Manfred Kleine-Hartlage was interviewed last February by the German weekly Junge Freiheit. The translation below was made by Mr. Kleine-Hartlage himself.


“How does Islam work?” This question is asked of Manfred Kleine-Hartlage. For the first time a social scientist dissects the deep structure of Islamic culture.

Interviewer: Moritz Schwarz

Mr. Kleine-Hartlage, how does Islam work?

Kleine-Hartlage: It is a comprehensive system regulating all areas of life. There is no separation between religion here, politics there, law there — therefore none between Islam and Islamism, either. Islamism is not an abuse of Islam, because Islam is different from our worldview.

Which means?

Kleine-Hartlage: It is striking that in the Islamic world up to now there have never been serious crises of faith, as we know them here in Europe, and that there are virtually no atheists. The reason for this is that the role of religion in the social fabric of Islamic societies is quite different from that of Christianity in ours. Islam does not only relate humans to the hereafter, like all religions do, and determine what is good and evil, but it also defines what is legal or illegal in a juridical sense, legitimate and illegitimate in a political sense, true and untrue in an empirical sense. Islam is, so to speak, the DNA of its societies: not only a religion but a social system.

So you can not get rid of Islam without risking the collapse of society?

Kleine-Hartlage: So it is, the Islamic norms and values system regulates the living together in Muslim societies far beyond the religious realm in the narrow sense of the word: without Islam they could not work at all. And that’s what makes Islam so stable and so successful.

However, you are not an Islamic scientist, but a social scientist.

Kleine-Hartlage: That’s true, but sociological analysis is generally characterized by a particular approach that differs from those of the respective disciplines. You needn’t be an economist for economic sociology, or a lawyer for the sociology of law. And in the same sense, you needn’t be an Islamic scientist to analyze the sociology of Islam.

You say that we do not understand Islam. Why?

Kleine-Hartlage: Because we think in terms that do not meet it. We use a certain terminology fit for describing our own culture, but not fit for that of Islam. Studying Islam makes the unconscious assumptions of one’s thinking conscious, because these assumptions are not just shared in Islam. To some extent, Islam works like a mirror that makes us better understand ourselves. This made it so exciting for me to study Islam with the tools of the social scientist.

What result did you get?

Kleine-Hartlage: Religions shapes the system of culturally valid and (by socialization) internalized pre-assumptions about issues such as truth, justice, morality, ethics, society, or violence; i.e. all the assumptions that precede actual political thinking. In Islam, one of these cultural matters of course is its all-encompassing claim to validity. Certainly these Islamic norms and values are not internalized by everyone to the same extent or in the same depth, but they characterize the mutual expectations of people and must therefore be taken into consideration even by those Muslims who are individually rather irreligious — while a “less devout” Muslim is usually still a stronger believer than most nominal Christians.

What are the consequences?

Kleine-Hartlage: The consequence is that the widespread assumption in this country under which we perceive Islam — that all religions are equal or “want the same thing” — is misleading. Let me give you an example: Islam does not generally outlaw violence, not even in a strictly moral sense. It is a legal system that he controls violence: Whether violence is acceptable or even required depends, not only in the legal, but also in the moral sense on the who, whom, why, and how. Christian culture with outright condemnation of violence tends to the elimination of private violence and is therefore dependent on the state and its monopoly on violence. Islam isn’t. On the contrary, violence has prestige value.


Kleine-Hartlage: Because the Prophet’s example, made a permanent feature in the Quran, teaches that the ability to use force a sign of divine election. Thus, the meaning of violence is similar to that of material wealth in Calvinism. Violence in Islam has a structuring function: it makes a difference between above and below, i.e. master and slave, men and women, believers and unbelievers. Islam doesn’t define peace as a universal principle.

But? After all, “Islam” means “peace”.

Kleine-Hartlage: No, “Islam” means, in friendly translation, “devotion” and less friendly, “submission”. The word is derived from the same word-root as “Salam” (peace), but it is not a synonym. The Islamic concept of society is based on the division of humanity into “believers” and “infidels” — and Islam leaves no doubt that the “infidels” sooner or later have to disappear in history. “Good” in the ethical sense, is what is good for the spread of Islam; “evil” is any opposition to it. Islam rejects the notion of a universal ethics by which all people have equal rights, no matter what religion they belong to, or peace as a matter of principle. Such views contradict not only the teachings of Islam, but its basic structure.

However, most Muslims are peaceful and not violent.

Kleine-Hartlage: That’s correct, but is not the point. Firstly, Islam established a system of cultural matters of course, that by itself makes sure that in any case of conflict there are always plenty of “extremists” and violent offenders. It does not matter how large are the masses, but only that their number is sufficient to produce an ever-present threat. And secondly, it creates a tacit social acceptance of violence, provided it is directed against the “infidels”, even among those Muslims who are not individually violent. It is this social endorsement that makes violence an available option at any given moment — and for all “infidels” a constant threat, at least suggesting resilience.

Your book is titled “Das Dschihadsystem”, The Jihad System. Why do you subsume Islam under this term? After all, the holy war is only one aspect of the Koran?

Kleine-Hartlage: Jihad is not just war. It includes anything Muslims do to bring the world under the law of Allah. All Islamic norms, not just the military, have as their common vanishing point to consolidate the Islamic societies and to displace non-Islamic societies. This is the immanent logic, the central idea that gives the Islamic norms and values its internal coherence. Therefore, I conceive Islam as a Jihad System.

The Holy War, however, is merely the “lesser jihad” while the “greater jihad” means the personal perfection of man as a good Muslim.

Kleine-Hartlage: The use of these adjectives (lesser and greater) seems to suggest one is important, the other unimportant. In fact, the emphasis in the Koran is exactly reversed. I counted and analyzed statistically the corresponding suras: the Koran refers in the latest, the Medinan suras — which are in any doubt, the decisive — relatively little to the “greater” jihad, the struggle for one’s own faith, compared with the struggle against the “infidels”, the so-called “lesser” jihad which is crucial in these suras.

Could it be that the aspect of the lesser Jihad became dominant as a result of historical developments that gave him an inadequate importance?

Kleine-Hartlage: This can be seen that way, but this historical development has been promoted by the founder of the religion himself, and it is reflected in the Koran. And that didn’t happen just by accident, but represents a development that results naturally from the theological premises of Islam. It is known that the Prophet from the start demanded fighting the “infidels” and practiced it himself: He led 27 military expeditions, wiped out a Jewish tribe, displaced several others, and murdered critics. Blaise Pascal once said. “Jesus let himself be killed, Muhammad himself killed”. And of course the Muslims not only follow the Koran, but equally the example of the Prophet. Never say to a Muslim this man wasn’t the epitome of human perfection.

Islamism, as you initially hinted, is primarily a manifestation of Islam and does not spring originally the sphere of extremism?

Kleine-Hartlage: Islamism is only the political side of Islam, that is, in fact, no degeneration, but a part of this religion. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has said quite rightly that there is no radical and no moderate Islam, but only Islam. Sharia is not law as we define it, consisting of “acts” by men, but a law given by Allah himself. So something that cannot be altered, not even by a majority vote; you can just obey or not. The idea of an Islam without Sharia law is absurd, that would be — not like soup without salt, but like soup without water. Therefore, Islamists are quite correct when claiming to be in harmony with the Prophet and the Koran. And consequently these Islamists are not socially isolated, but very respected for their strong faith and respected members of the Islamic community.

Is Islam as a religion?

Kleine-Hartlage: Yeah sure, just not a religion how we imagine a religion ought to be, namely something focusing on a kingdom “not of this world.” It is a religion that wants to be socially realized and also depends on being a social reality.

Couldn’t there be an Islamic Enlightenment and thus a more moderate Euro-Islam?

Kleine-Hartlage: Firstly, I repeat: That would undermine the basis of Islamic societies. Therefore, there is enormous social pressure which prevents this. Secondly, Islam itself is already in some ways a kind of “enlightenment” as Islam has questioned anything in Christianity that is paradoxical and dialectical, sometimes incomprehensible, and to bring it to a simple formula: for example no Trinity, but only one God and absolute transcendence. No original sin that implies that man must fail to be truly good in the Christian sense. Instead, clear rules on how to behave in order to please God. In a sense, Islam is a very rationalist religion that may not even need “enlightenment”.

Wouldn’t you at least concede that a kind of Reformation could moderate Islam?

Kleine-Hartlage: First, was our Reformation something moderate? Secondly, there have been reformations in Islam, just like in Christianity, that claimed to lead religion “back to the roots”. But while this “back” in Christianity meant the inner life, the faith, to emphasize the grace of God, reformation in Islam, as a “back to the roots”, means just the opposite, emphasizing the validity of the political model of the original community of the Prophet, whose political profile I’ve already described.

Now there is obviously in many Islamic countries the spark of democratic revolution. Does not this contradict your analysis blatantly?

Kleine-Hartlage: No, I would like to remind you that these events are only a few weeks old, and that there are already first indications of an Islamist turn of these revolutions, as we see in the murder of the Polish priest Marek Rybinski in Tunisia. In Turkey, incidentally, for eighty years there has been an attempt to westernize, and yet we have witnessed for years a rapid re-Islamization. Nobody can say today what will follow from the current insurgency in the Arab world. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan once said: Democracy is a tram that brings us to the destination — and then we get out.


Egghead said...1
Manfred Kleine-Hartlage: Thank you for your original interview and the translation. Great job!
vanhetgoor said...2
Once the islam was invented as a clever way enslaving stupid people. One day somebody will come up with an antidote, informing stupid people that they are being conned. I guess they will not be happy to hear that message. Once the islam came, one day the islam will go away. The world will be a better place the sooner the islam is made made known as a bunch of lies. Every lie will eventually be pinched through. Maybe it takes a few more weeks, maybe it will take another year, but some day the lies of the islam won't harm people anymore, any country without muslims will be a better country. There is no fear for a muslims-less society, the world does not stop turning when Allah is exposed as a silly invention. The sooner the better, think of al those victims of islam, one day they will be free!
Lawrence said...3
You say that we do not understand Islam. Why? Kleine-Hartlage: Because we think in terms that do not meet it. We use a certain terminology fit for describing our own culture, but not fit for that of Islam. Except that we do understand Islam. One does not have to immerse themselves in something in order to study it. It may help for a quicker grasp of context, but not for overall understanding. What we face in Western Culture are those who believe they can use Islam to further their own ends, and then deal with Islam later. Many of these "users" disagree with Islam on fundamental levels, but allow Islam to befuddle the efforts of their other enemies. Why do we think the secular liberal movements are so willing to embrace the fundamentalism of Islam, but not Christianity? Islam is a much greater fundamental threat to their agendas. Answer is, the current cultural codex is based on the Bible. And it is this Biblical context for Western Culture that is under fire. Secular left wants to eliminate any religious context. Islam wants to fundamentally change the context. The secular left is still in the minority for changing this precedent, however, and any ally in the conflict is good for them in the immediate future. They think that once we re-create culture in context of liberal Utopian ideologies (their beliefs versus our beliefs) it will render all religions (including Islam) obsolete. However, that will not deter the Islamist movement. The Islamists will simply seek to over-thrown the new liberal Utopia with Sharia. And those who once where allies will become enemies.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

UN rights

The UN…….
Democracies have been a minority within the UN since 1958.
The UN is controlled by a bunch of failed, corrupt, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, dictatorial states.
The block of 57 OIC countries comes to mind.
These 57 countries, have their own official ‘ declaration of human rights’, are actively involved in suppressing the right of free speech and have only signed several other UN declarations with reservations as they contradict with Islamic Sharia law.
Several of these countries that repress women, homosexuals, ethnic and religious minorities are members of the UN Human Rights Commission. Syria, Sudan, Libya, and especially Saudi Arabia, together with China and Cuba are countries that oppose and reject the concept of universal human rights, have an appalling record of human right abuse and they happily criticise New Zealand.
It is a sad state of affairs.
Last year……
Libya had a chair on the Human Rights Council.
China, Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Cameroon all had seats on the Human Rights Council.
North Korea had the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament
Iran had a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Pakistan served as acting head of a U.N. body called the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.